The new Ssangyong Tivoli
The new Ssangyong Tivoli

Caroline drives the Ssangyong Tivoli.

SsangYong relaunched in Ireland about three years ago with a line of SUVs and commercial vehicles, but the arrival of the Tivoli compact crossover finally gives the Korean brand a model with more mainstream appeal.

The first thing to note about the Tivoli is that it is the most car-like of the current SsangYong range. Its closest relative would be the Korando SUV, but the Tivoli is less elevated and the look is more stylish and urban. With the addition of a diesel engine to the range, the Tivoli is ready for battle in the compact crossover class with refreshingly distinctive looks.

It may be deemed a ‘compact’ crossover, but the Tivoli is anything but small inside. Rear head and legroom is really good with a low, flat transmission tunnel meaning that even the middle passenger won’t feel short-changed on space. The boot is big at 423 litres but you will be pulling out heavier items over a high load lip.

What’s it like inside?

There are a lot of hard plastics in the cabin but different colours, materials and textures are mixed well so altogether it has an inviting look. There are elements of style to it: the silver rimmed instrument dials with pretty coloured illumination, and gloss black on the centre console and door finishes. It does take a bit of time to navigate all the little buttons on the centre console, and they are not the most tactile to operate. A touchscreen infotainment system on the EL test car completes a modern look.

ssangyong tivoli car review
Interior of the SsangYong Tivoli

Since the Tivoli launched here in summer 2015, a new 1.6-litre diesel with 115bhp has joined the 1.6-litre (128bhp) petrol, and it’s a far more appropriate engine for the Irish market. The diesel does not have the most subdued engine note and is noisy under hard acceleration, but it’s quick and returns good economy of up to 67mpg, with pocket-friendly motor tax of €190 per year.

The Tivoli feels very car-like on the road and between a heavy punch of torque from the diesel engine, good feedback coming through the steering, and composure through bends, the Tivoli is a good drive. While it’s comfortable on smooth roads, it does bounce and jiggle over rougher surfaces and holes in the road (this is Ireland after all!). The steering actually has three different settings – Normal, Comfort and Sport – and is noticeably heavier in Sport mode, which is ideal for a spirited drive on some of our finest country roads. Comfort lightens up the steering for easy low speed manoeuvres.

How much does the Ssangyong Tivoli cost?

Pricing starts at €19,995 for petrol Tivolis, and diesels start at a very reasonable €21,495, with two trim levels, ES and EL. There is quite a price hike between trim levels though the spec on ES will likely satisfy a lot of people with equipment including 16” alloy wheels, air con, Bluetooth, cruise control, and front fog lamps.

EL models are extremely well equipt, including touchscreen, parking sensors, reversing camera, heated front seats, 18” alloys, leather seats, dual zone climate control, auto lights and wipers, and roof rails. There are manual and automatic gearboxes available for the Tivoli and an all-wheel-drive option from €24,995.

SsangYong Ireland has the ideal product now to go more mainstream as the Tivoli is very stylish and distinct, but with the easy driving, car-like qualities that appeal to the crossover buyer. The engine could be a bit more refined and the ride a bit more accommodating to the worst of Irish roads, but the Tivoli’s good qualities outweigh any less than perfect ones!

Tivoli on sale in Ireland now
Tivoli on sale in Ireland now

Read about the 2020 Ssangyong Tivoli now.

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: SsangYong Tivoli EL 1.6L Diesel 2WD
1.6-litre turbo diesel
9.5 seconds
CO2 Emissions: 
Motor Tax: 
€190 per year